ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Republican U.S. Senate candidate Karen Handel returned April 30 to her North Fulton roots for a breakfast meeting with an upbeat message for supporters that included Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle and Councilmen Jim Gilvin and D.C. Aiken.
Belle Isle welcomed Handel to the 8 a.m. breakfast meeting warmly.
“We need to do what needs to be done in these last weeks for the candidate who will be effective in getting the job done in Washington,” Belle Isle said. “Early voting has already started. We need to support [Handel] as the strongest candidate against Democrat Michelle Nunn, who will be making a strong bid in November.”
Belle Isle noted Handel first proved herself in the business world, working for such global companies as CibaVison and KPMG before taking the job as president of the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce.
Next, she accepted the challenge to run for the office of Fulton County chairperson in a special election. She won her spurs by reversing a proposed 3 mill tax increase, convincing the County Commission to cut spending instead.
She then successfully ran for Georgia secretary of state and confounded the experts by not only getting Georgia’s tough voter ID legislation passed, but passing court scrutiny as well. During her term as secretary of state, she also slashed her own budget by 20 percent.
Handel narrowly lost her bid to be governor to Nathan Deal in 2010. From there, she began a controversial stint as vice president of public policy for the breast cancer nonprofit agency Susan G. Komen for the Cure. She resigned from Komen after a public battle in which she had proposed cutting Komen’s funding of Planned Parenthood over its support of abortion.
After adopting the Handel initiative, the Komen Foundation reversed its position and Handel resigned in protest.
She also served as deputy chief of staff for Gov. Sonny Perdue.
Now Handel is in the race for the GOP nomination for Senate, and says she is in it to win it as the conservative with the best chance to defeat Nunn in the November general election.
Handel wasted no time telling her supporters that she is the candidate who will go to Washington with a plan to cut spending and revitalize the economy.
“You do that by looking at the ‘must do’ in the budget and not the ‘nice do.’ I believe in zero-based budgeting,” Handel said. “Even if we did it only once every decade, it would force Congress to re-examine spending.”
Federal spending is not all pork barrel spending, but represents 40 percent of Georgia’s annual budget.
“I am a big fan of the Fair Tax, which lets people control how much tax they pay,” she said. “And I know firsthand how to build a strong economy. You lower taxes and lessen regulation.”
She scoffed at meddling with the minimum wage, saying that is approaching real economic growth from the wrong end.
“Increasing minimum wage doesn’t build a stronger economy. Creating more and better jobs is how you build a strong economy,” Handel said.
Handel said with the low requests for absentee ballots for the May 20 primary, she is convinced there will be an unusually low turnout. So it is important for every voter to cast a ballot.
“It is also interesting that the candidate who has spent $3 million has lost ground in the polls, the candidate who spent $1.5 million hasn’t moved and the woman who has spent 20 cents is moving up like a rocket,” she said.
Diane Smith said she came out to support Handel because she was the candidate who talked about solutions, not “positions.”
“I think she will go to Washington and lower the budget. And she is woman who has faith, and I like that,” Smith said.
Handel said later that the “buzz” around her campaign is accelerating.
“There is three weeks left, and it is all about working harder. The plus for me is the core of supporters I have all across the state,” she said. “We had 200 people turn out in Murray County last week up in North Georgia. That was amazing.”
Handel said she is approaching the primary with confidence and determination.